Former Raptors Favorite Signs Deal to Return Home

Former Toronto Raptors wing Yuta Watanabe has signed a deal to return to Japan with the Chiba Jets for next season
Apr 10, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) dribbles up court  against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe (18) dribbles up court against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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Yuta Watanabe is officially leaving the NBA.

The former Toronto Raptors forward will reportedly head back to Japan to sign with the Chiba Jets, according to Basket News. Watanabe held a player option for the veteran minimum with the Memphis Grizzlies but has opted to head home for next season.

Watanabe first broke into the league with the Grizzlies in 2018 after going undrafted out of George Washington. He latched on to the Raptors as a training camp invitee in 2020 and was initially viewed as an underdog to make the team.

Toronto made the surprising decision to keep Watanabe who clawed his way into rotation minutes for the Raptors, averaging 14.5 minutes per game across 50 games that season. Watanabe looked like a good bench wing for the organization thanks to his active defense and 40% three-point stroke.

Injuries eventually marred Watanabe's time in Toronto and after appearing in just 38 games for the Raptors in 2021-22, the organization opted to part ways with the 6-foot-9 forward.

Watanabe spent one season with the Brooklyn Nets where he became a valuable role player thanks to his 44.4% three-point stroke playing alongside Kevin Durant for part of the year.

Durant's Phoenix Suns signed Watanabe last summer to a two-year deal with Watanabe expected to play a role off the bench for the Suns. Phoenix traded Watanabe to Memphis ahead of the trade deadline last season.

The Japanese native will leave the NBA having appeared in 213 games across six seasons while averaging 4.2 points per game for his career.


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Aaron Rose

AARON ROSE

Aaron Rose is a Toronto-based reporter covering the Toronto Raptors since 2020.